On 7 September, the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute at the ICDS invited John Lough of the Russia-Eurasia Programme, Chatham House, to discuss his newly published book, Germany’s Russia Problem: The Struggle for Balance in Europe. The book, which is the product of deep acquaintance with both countries, as well as many years of research, has already become a subject of discussion in Germany.
The relationship between Germany and Russia is Europe´s most important link with the largest country on the continent. But despite Germany´s unparalleled knowledge and historical experience, its policymakers struggle to accept that Moscow´s efforts to rebalance Europe at the cost of the cohesion of the EU and NATO are an attack on Germany´s core interests.
John Lough, an associate fellow of the Chatham House Russia and Eurasia Programme and, concurrently, senior research fellow of the Institute for Statecraft, wanted to write a book that would explain how and why Germany had pursued the policies that it did from 1990 through to 2014, when Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, in order to show that German policy had been not just over optimistic, but it had been misguided. Why Germany with such deep knowledge and experience of Russia, the country, that cares about and understand its importance for European security, ended up making such basic errors? The book discusses these matters, looks at the historical and cultural context, considers why Germany feels this way about Russia. Lough believes that the involvement of emotions is pivotal, since to a large extent German policy towards Russia is guided by historical context, by a sense of emotion about the past, the connectivity that Germans have felt with Russia.
John Lough about his newly published book: